Musical Instrument Repairers and Tuners

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Musical Instrument Repairers and Tuners

Musical Instrument Repairers and Tuners - Overview

Musical instrument repairers and tuners adjust, repair, and tune instruments to improve their sound.

Musical instrument repairers and tuners usually specialize in one type of instrument.

  • Keyboard repairers work on pianos and pipe organs
  • Stringed instrument repairers work on violins, cellos, and guitars
  • Reed and wind repairers work on clarinets, saxophones, oboes, other reed instruments, flutes, trumpets, French horns, and other brass instruments
  • Percussion instrument repairers work on drums, cymbals, and xylophones
  • Electronic keyboard repairers work on digital pianos, synthesizers, electronic organs, and public address and guitar amplifying equipment

Details of the job differ depending on the type of instrument. All musical instrument repairers and tuners share some tasks. Repairers first examine the instrument and check its parts. They may take the instrument apart to repair or clean it. They repair or replace broken or worn parts and put the instrument back together. Repairers sometimes carve replacement parts such as wedges or plugs. Musical instrument repairers also repair cracks, dents, and breaks in wood and metal instruments and drums. Finally, they clean and polish instruments.

Musical instrument repairers perform many tasks specific to the instruments they work on.

Piano repairers adjust the alignment and string spacing on pianos. They also adjust felt hammers to increase the mellow sound of the piano. Pipe organ repairers adjust lips, reeds, and other parts of pipes to regulate the airflow and loudness. They also assemble new organs in churches and auditoriums. A large organ might take weeks or even months to finish.

String instrument repairers may assemble new instruments. They adjust trusses and bridges to obtain proper string tension and height. They may also refinish instruments with varnish to protect the wood.

Percussion instrument repairers replace drumheads on drums. They remove the drumhead by removing tension rods with a drum key. They cut a new drumhead from plastic, place it over the rim hoop, and replace the rim on the drum. Percussion instrument repairers also solder or weld the frames of mallet instruments and metal drum parts. They may also clean, sand, and paint various parts.

Musical instrument repairers use a large variety of tools, depending on their instrument. They may use:

  • Clamps
  • Cutting tools
  • Filing tools
  • Knives
  • Mallets
  • Soldering irons
  • Torches
  • Woodworking machines
  • Wrenches

Most repairers also tune instruments. They use tuning tools ranging from tuning forks to electronic tuners. Methods vary depending on the instrument. Piano tuners increase or decrease string tension with a tuning hammer. Tuners of stringed instruments adjust string tension by hand. Pipe-organ tuners move metal slides on pipes to change the pipes' speaking length. Wind instrument tuners file metal reeds until they reach the proper pitch.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.